At our house, summer is always somewhat hectic. The kids have summer camps, and I try to squeeze in time to work in between their entreaties that I come out and play with them. We live in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It’s a wonderful town in the summer. There the Summer Festival, with free music and movies, and very expensive, never very tasty, food. The Summer Festival is still referred to as Top of the Park, even though it has long since moved from the top of a University of Michigan parking garage, to in front of U of M’s H.H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies (the school from which I graduated). Then, we have the Townie Festival. In summer, most of U of M’s 40,000 students generally leave, and those of us who are left are referred to as “townies.” So, the July Townie Festival is a chance to meet up with friends and find a parking spot.
We live within biking distance of a large public pool, and just a few minutes away from the Huron River, where we kayak frequently. A slightly longer car trip into the surrounding countryside will take us to a small lake, where we can swim for hours along with, maybe, 6-10 other people on the packed, sand beach. It’s a magical spot, and just a couple of weeks ago, we kayaked around the lake until late-evening and watched the full moon rise over the water. While floating in our kayaks, necks stretched back so we could see the Big Dipper, we were treated to several shooting stars.
There are plenty of distractions from work. As for work, what we’re doing at the moment is planning changes for the web site. As I’ve written, visitors click through two dozen pages, often. In a typical month, we serve up between 2-3 million pages. That’s an impressive statistic. Insidehighered.com has much more traffic than we do, but the average visitor to that site views just 1-2 pages.
I know that for many of you reading this entry, summer is a time of anxiety. You didn’t get any summer courses, and your letter of re-appointment is probably not going to get mailed out until the beginning of August. I remember the summers when I taught part-time. I lived in an apartment complex, and to help make ends meet, in exchange for rent in the summer, I tended the pool. The job was, actually, fun, and it helped pay the rent five months out of the year. I was almost 20 years younger, of course. I know there are many part-time faculty out there working summer jobs to make the ends meet until September. I also know that there will be some of you who won’t get a letter of re-appointment. If you don’t, remember that your education and teaching experience make you a great catch for many kinds of employers outside of Academe.
When I was in graduate school, and the years after, I thought I would spend my entire career teaching in a college classroom. That thought went through my mind every time we went to Top of the Park this summer, and I sat on the lawn in front of the Rackham building.
I miss teaching, sometimes, but not enough to realize that leaving the profession was the best decision I ever made.